A Familiar British Face in the 3*-L at Maryland: Oliver Reunites with Juli Sebring’s Ulises for a Catch-Ride

Oliver Townend and Ulises after their Maryland test. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Scanning the CCI3*-L entry list at the Maryland 5 Star, a familiar British face appears, entered on an American (and a local one, at that) horse. That’s right: Oliver Townend is catch-riding Juli Sebring’s Ulises, who is a former ride of his that he competed up through the CCI4* level in England.

Juli purchased Ulises earlier this year and set about forming a partnership with him. She worked hard to get her qualifications in order for the 3*L, but “there just came a point in time where I knew we weren’t going to make it,” she explained. “I was having to run him so much, and I didn’t want to break him in the process.”

Oliver Townend and Ulises. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

So, on a whim, she sent an email across the pond.

Ulises got his competitive start with Andrew Nicholson back in 2012, eventually moving up through the Advanced and former 3* level before the ride went to Oliver in 2016. He would continue gaining Advanced mileage with Oliver, picking up a fourth place finish in the CCI4*-L at Ballendenisk in 2019, qualifying for the CCI5* level as well.

Juli Sebring and Ulises. Photo by Amy Dragoo.

But Oliver hadn’t seen Ulises for two years, and Juli had purchased Ulises through Andrew Williams after he’d been back with his former owner, Corrina Bithell, since 2020. “I wasn’t sure what he’d say, seeing how I’d never talked to him before,” Juli laughed.

Oliver was quick to respond though, saying he’d love to take a spin around on his former pal and even agreeing to teach a couple of lessons while he was at Juli Sebring’s Appleton Equestrian, which essentially backs right up to the Fair Hill property. Below are some tidbits and tips from Oliver’s lessons, as told by Juli:

  • Riders began on the flat. Oliver said it’s good to leave the horse alone for the first five minutes then begin encouraging them to move forward. He had them build into the trot, telling them that it doesn’t matter if they canter, the horse just has to respond positively by going forward. The reason? More power will help the horses carry themselves, so that the rider can then be quieter.
  • “Try to be quicker in your mind, gentler with your reaction” was a good quote from the jumping phase. Oliver wanted horses forward to the fences with balancing before the fence. He encouraged riders to plan ahead, turn their heads and always be thinking what’s next.
  • He was very encouraging, and very communicative with the audience of about 30 people.

You can catch Juli and her team cheering on their hometown hero all weekend long in these adorable matching shirts:

This morning, Oliver and Ulises scored a 29.4 in their dressage test, putting them into 10th place provisionally with the last third or so of the CCI3*-L yet to see.

Oliver Townend and Ulises. Photo by Sally Spickard.

We’ll be cheering on, too! Go Eventing.